after all the months of waiting
the start of the vol state is only hours away.
124 runners lie in their beds.
some sleep soundly.
others toss and turn
or stare into the darkness.

what awaits them?
no one really knows.
the road stretches out from the ferry
like a great black serpent.
holding its secrets
for the road warriors to discover.

some are grizzled veterans
with many skins on their wall.
some are here for redemption.
the vol state beat them before
but did not vanquish their spirit
nor quench their thirst to reach the rock.

an unprecedented number are innocents.
they have heard the tales
and were not frightened away.
they arrived with shining faces
full of hope.
but deep inside
they feel the fear of the unknown.
the same unknown they hunger to know.

and far away
atop a remote mountain in north georgia
the rock awaits their arrival.

the rock
a magical place.
a place where dreams come true….

for those who can conquer the serpent that guards it.
314 miles of open road.
the great black serpent
with blistering heat
and violent storms.
with lonely nights
and endless days under the blazing sun.

it is a brutal
relentless guardian.
protecting the secrets of the rock.

and so the vol staters lie in their beds tonight.
each girding themselves in their own way
for the immense challenge ahead.
many will fail.
all will feel the heat
and fatigue.
the pain.
all will taste the moments of despair…

and each will
(in their own way)
shed tears along the way.

for those who survive
awaits that magical moment
when they sight the rock.

after the unimaginable lows
they overcame along the way.
the reward of the highest of highs.

this is what brings them to the ferry in the morning.
everyday, ordinary people,
who have in them the immutable drive
to accomplish extraordinary things.

superheroes walk among us.
needing only the challenge
that demands they find in themselves
a strength they did not know was there.

vaya con dios vol staters!

Categories: Vols2024